Greetings, United fans! It's been a while since I last posted and a LOT has happened since then ... and a lot has NOT happened since then. I'm referring, of course, to the cancellation of the 2020 MPL season. Like you, I'm sheltering-in-place and, like you, I'm bummed out about losing the schedule this year.
As you may be aware, something happened this past weekend that might not have seemed all that important in terms of your United, but it was a HUGE deal ... perhaps the biggest "win" we've ever had, on or off the pitch. We won something very little, but we also won something very HUGE.
The "little" was a fun, minor distraction of a Twitter support tournament, conducted by @LowerLeagueUSA, a Twitter account that supports clubs like ours all across the country. The account owners selected 64 teams that they felt used Twitter well. If you follow our Twitter account, you'll know that myself, our PA man, Nik Myles, our bossman, John Hall, and other club staff and supporters, keep a running "woofing" going with our fellow MPL clubs, most notably Rockford FC and Union Dubuque. If you don't follow our Twitter feed, you're missing out ... so get thee to @dkcunited and join in the fun!
So, the object of each "match" was simple: a Twitter poll, matching two teams, was posted. In the allotted time frame, the team that received the most votes won the match, and moved onto the next round. The teams were seeded and placed in "regions" ... we were in the Minneapolis region, seeded #11.
We won our first two matches rather handily, advancing to the Sweet 16. We won again in the Sweet 16 to reach the regional final against #1 seed Minneapolis FC ... and eked out a narrow win to move into the National Semifinal against Great White Buffalo. A late flurry of activity brought us another narrow win and put us in the National Championship this past Saturday (April 3) against another #1 seed, FC Buffalo and their 7,600 followers.
Saturday was one of those days that we will look back on with great fondness as staff members. We beat the bushes for supporters. John Hall tweeted at Cindy Crawford (no word on whether she voted or not) ... I tweeted to the NBCSN Premier League commentators (Arlo White, Lee Dixon, Graeme LeSaux, The Two Robbies, and Men In Blazers ... again, no way to know if they actually voted) ... I tweeted to Chicago sportscasters like Mark Giangreco, Laurence Holmes, Danny Parkins, and David Kaplan ... our graphic design goddess, Jenn, tweeted every Liverpool supporters group she knew.
NIU men's soccer coach, Ryan Swan, tweeted out to his team to join in the voting. Supporters living as far away as Atlanta tweeted Atlanta United supporters to our cause (portions of Atlanta extend into DeKalb County, Georgia). We worked Twitter like election-day volunteers turning out the vote (which, actually, is exactly what we were doing).
We led early, knowing that the time difference meant that the good folks in Buffalo would be heading to bed while we had one last hour to work magic. Late in the evening, Buffalo surged past us, erasing a 67-vote lead. But, they could never get more than 15-20 votes ahead. We hit the phones like William Perry hit the buffet. And, as time wound down, we slowly crept into the lead ... and, like sands through the hourglass, so was the night of our lives ... as the polls closed ... we'd won ... 1,035 votes to 1,020 ... 2,055 votes cast in the final ... no other matchup generated more than 800 in the entire tournament.
I "broadcast" the final moments as victory was inevitable on Twitter, and as I did so, I got a chill as I typed the words. I got it, I later realized, for two reasons (in no particular order):
1) If we are successful on the pitch, we'll one day bring home a trophy to you, our fans, and to the DeKalb County community. And when that day comes ... I'll actually say the words that I could only type on Saturday ... "... and DeKalb County United are CHAMPIONS!" ... and I got a chill thinking of actually saying that, and hoping I'll be able to do so without crying, and ...
2) Our goal these last three years, as staff, has been to grow the club to become not just a success on the pitch, but to become part of the fabric of life here in DeKalb County. We've tried to show you that we're here to be part of our parades, our festivals, our schools, our kids' lives through camps and fun soccer tournaments. We want to be part of the community, and we've been hoping the community will embrace us and some to see DKCU as their club ... and the support we received in our Twitter battle on Saturday ... from local businesses ... to the NIU soccer team ... to our supporters here locally (and those from afar) ... everyone came to our cause when we needed them ... and that makes us all feel absolutely terrific ...
We found that winning in a simple little Twitter battle, during the worst societal disaster in our collective lifetimes, brought more people to our cause than we could ever have imagined. We hope that the excitement we created, the creative ways in which we engaged everyone, will translate to support in the stands when we are once again able to play in front of our friends, our families, our neighbors, and our community.
Our win resulted in no trophy for our trophy case, but it was, in many ways, the biggest win we've ever experienced as staff and as fans of our club ... and we hope you will all be ready to join us when the day comes for me to say to you all ...
"Ladies and gentlemen ... live, from the NIU Soccer Complex in DeKalb, Illinois ... it's time, once again ... to STAND UNITED for the action and excitement of DeKalb County United soccer ..."